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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Become Who You Are

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Sep
Become Who You Are
Sounds like … the radio-friendly pop/rock of Jeremy Camp, Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, Kutless, Sanctus Real, Story Side:B, and other bands with an ear for ear-candy.At a glance … Mainstay's second album plays by all the rules of made-for-radio pop/rock—not really a creative step forward, but recommended for those in search of catchy hooks and overtly Christian lyrics.Track Listing Become Who You Are
Stars Are Singing
Away From You
Where Your Heart Belongs
Am I Keeping You?
Only One
When You Come Down
Hang On

Seattle-based Tooth & Nail Records has generally done a good job of compartmentalizing its business. The label proper focuses on marketing the hipper alternative acts under the company's umbrella—everything from electronica and synth-pop to emo and rap-rock. Their imprint Solid State Records handles the hardcore, metal, and screamo ensembles—the stuff so loud and intense that it's likely to scare small children. And then there's BEC Recordings, the label's more pop-friendly subsidiary targeted more specifically to Christian radio.

Minnesota band Mainstay belongs to this last imprint, and for good reason. They're the epitome of radio-ready modern rock, with music so immediate and catchy, it wouldn't be surprising if it ended up on a CW television show or a direct-to-video Christian movie. Even more noticeable are the band's upfront messages and statements of faith—which is usually the best indicator for determining if the band will end up with BEC or not. (Naturally, there are exceptions, like Underoath being on Tooth & Nail despite their hardcore sound and overt faith.)

For Become Who You Are, Mainstay takes everything that endeared them to fans the first time around and compound it tenfold on their follow-up. Their debut Well Meaning Fiction was already pretty and consumer-friendly pop/rock accessible to Christian radio, but Become Who You Are outdoes it in spades. With the worshipful lyrics, it's not far off from label mates Jeremy Camp or Kutless; without them, this album isn't dissimilar from the corporate radio rock of Lifehouse or Goo Goo Dolls.

As with other Top 40 fare, this album could use more substantive subject matters instead of stock Christian vernacular, but that'll be part of the band's charm for some. Unapologetic about Jesus ("Hang On"), the gospel ("Story"), and praise ("Stars Are Singing"), Mainstay doesn't offer anything that the Christian-rock canon hasn't already seen or heard. At least what they do pushes all the right commercial buttons, even if it all seems more musically indistinct and lyrically obvious now than before.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.